Cheap Date: a Walk on West Queen West (West West West)
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Cheap Date: a Walk on West Queen West (West West West)

cheapdate.gifThe always trendy Queen Street West, has upped the ante, and finally moved itself as far “West” as it can reach (and then east to Leslieville – but that’s a different story).
For less than 30 bucks, you can explore this hot new ‘hood, and prove to your best boy and/or girl that you are hip and cultured – and those are things that can’t be bought.
Surprisingly enough, getting up early is crucial to the West Queen West experience. So this is best done on a weekend morning (perhaps after a successful Friday night date that didn’t exactly end). Many of the galleries and stores open in the morning, and close before it gets dark (the better to throw parties at them at night, you see).
So you’re going to have to get up for breakfast…
Or maybe brunch…
Or at least lunch anyway.
Thankfully, many of the cafes in this area cater to exactly to this crowd: Late rising, and early closing.

We’re starting our walk from the far west end of the gallery strip, and a great place to grab some grub there is The Beaver ( 1192 Queen West- near Dufferin). The decor is hip, the clientele is appropriately cool, and the food is reasonably priced. You could go crazy and splurge on juice, coffee, pastries, AND an eggy entree, and not go over our requisite 30 dollar maximum.
In fact, go ahead and do that. The rest of our day is going to be spent gallery hopping – and all of the major galleries on Queen are free to visit – so feed your belly for the walk ahead.
The first gallery I recommend dropping in at is Spin (1100 Queen West – near Dovercourt). They always have an interesting selection of things on the wall. Recently, I’ve seen a lot of rather fun, naive, pop-culture inspired drawings – but it’s a constantly changing roster of works by local artists. Plus the industrial space itself is beautiful, and well worth a peek.
The MOCCA (Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art – 952 Queen West) is a bit of a hidden Gem. Tucked back off the street in a little courtyard, its focus is promoting young up and coming artists (local and otherwise).
A bit further down is Trinity Bellwoods Park. Puppies, happenings, drum circles, impromptu art projects, photo-shoots, pickup softball games – there’s always something interesting going on in – so it’s worth a checkout, even if it’s just to take a breather from all the walking to make-out under a shady tree.
I’ve saved the best for last: the Magic Pony (694 Queen West) is one of my absolute favourite places in the city. The front is an adorable store for designer toys, art books and collectible T-shirts and the back is the constantly changing gallery. They have a focus on international illustration, graffiti, urban art and graphic design. In other words: lots of bright colours and cutesy stuff (especially from Japan) – definitely some of the most accessible and fun art on the strip. The shopkeepers are also notoriously friendly and enthusiastic, so it’s also worth chatting with them and coming back for one of their infamous gallery openings (although that also, is another story for another day).